‘It was a battle against top 3 of the world. And Amir was up for the challenge’

Kumar Sangakkara, in an interview with BBC Asia Network, praised Pakistan’s efforts to win the Champions Trophy and said “Pakistan got a hiding in the first game against India but I think that also kind of worked in their favour to keep focus on what needs to be done in the tournament, to be able to execute their plans, have discipline and stay together”.

He also mentioned that it brought the drive in them to win the tournament, the ability to ignore the naysayers, to know and believe they have a young side and believe in themselves to play to their strengths.

On Fakhar Zaman: Sangakkara was highly impressed with his approach towards the game and spoke about the fearlessness with which he played his innings. “Sometimes experience can unfortunately breed fear and Fakhar Zaman had none of it. He was unwell the night before, caught off a no ball, but he probably thought it is my day and I better make the most of it. It was not all out attack though, he played very smartly, rotated the strike after every few boundaries. He took on Ashwin who is a fantastic bowler and hit him in good areas which was the hallmark of his innings. He batted with a lot of maturity which is great for Pakistan to see.”

Sangakkara also spoke about the exciting times that lie ahead for Pakistan. “If Pakistan can keep their focus on their fitness levels and commit to repeat their execution that they know they can have, they would be a fantastic side to watch”.

Having played with Mohammad Amir in Karachi Kings, he spoke about the tough times he has gone through and come out as a champion bowler. “Amir has had a very tough time, went through fire really but came out of it rejoined, had hurdles from his own team but the only way you can redeem yourself is to play the game in the fair manner and he has done that in the past few years and shown he is the most skillful cricketer to come out. It was always going to be a battle between the best opening pair in the world along with the best number 3 in the world against Mohammad Amir and Amir was up for the challenge. He bowled smartly, exploited the conditions and when things weren’t working, adapted very quickly”.

Sangakkara who shares a great relationship with Mickey Arthur spoke about his personal bond with him and his impact on the Pakistan team.  “Mickey Arthur is a man who is very simple in his outlook, backs his players, ensures there is an environment of trust and support, and takes no nonsense, which is important for a side like Pakistan. He is a buffer for the team against all external pressures so the team is allowed to play cricket and not focus on other things. I’ve got to know him over the years and he is a lovely man, an absolute asset, the way he has handled the team after that first loss speaks volumes of his character, he has got the team to come out on top and will try and build for the future.”

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